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American Medical Botany, Vol. 1

Jacob Bigelow, 1817

Jacob Bigelow (1787-1879) was an American doctor, professor, and botanist. Bigelow, a graduate of Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania, later went on to teach at Harvard. Bigelow also studied under Benjamin Barton, a well-known botanist and professor of material medica. American medical botany, published as a three volume set, is a compendium of American plants and their medicinal uses — each plant is illustrated and described in terms of physical, behavioral, and medicinal characteristics. This was one of the first two American botany books to be printed in color. The other, Vegetable Materia Medica of the United States by Benjamin Barton (the son of Bigelow’s mentor, Barton), was published the same year. To avoid the time-consuming process of hand-coloring each of the 60 plates in each printing, Bigelow invented a mechanical method of printing the engraved plates and tinting them simultaneously.


Endsheets are brittle and brown, front board almost and back board completely detached, leather spine detached, leather weak with red rot. Paper of textblock is strong, textblock is oversewn. Spine is a hollow-back. Recommendation: reback with new material, replacing endsheets to strengthen cover-to-text attachment.

Adopted for $500 on January 31, 2014 by UC Medical Humanities Consortium and the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine, UCSF.